Highlanders fire on all cylinders to steamroll Cosby

Published 12:19 am Saturday, September 25, 2021

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

After coming off of their first loss of the season two weeks ago against the Hampton Bulldogs, the Cloudland Highlanders were given a bye week during week five before heading into a homecoming contest on Friday.

The Highlanders (3-1) of Roan Mountain squared off against the Cosby Eagles (0-4) on the special occasion, and there was no doubt about the Cloudland offense early as on their inaugural drive, Seth Birchfield would cap things off with a 16-yard rushing score to make it a 6-0 ball game midway through the first.

But Cosby would have the answer, scoring only minutes later on a 32-yard air raid touchdown from Tyler Turner to Hayden Green, knotting things up at six apiece with four minutes to go in the first period.

However, the train did not stop for the Highlanders, with their next possession resulting in another score after only two plays, a 20 yard gain for Caleb Sluder, and a 32-yard score from Birchfield. The two-point conversion would be good with Birchfield contributing for all eight points on the drive, making it a 14-6 contest late in the first.

With under a minute in the first stanza, Cloudland would add on one more on another short drive, one that was capped off by Sluder for his first score of the night on a 44-yard rushing touchdown followed by another two points from Birchfield, giving the ‘Landers a 22-6 advantage at the quarter break.

Not even a minute into the second period, Cloudland defensive lineman Dylan McClellan would intercept a pass and give the home team possession just outside of the red zone. That turnover would result in another Highlander touchdown, with Birchfield going two yards for the score and Sluder converting for two, as it was now 30-6 in favor of the Landers.

Before the half would end, Cloudland tacked on two more scores, one coming on a one-yard drive where quarterback Chase Shell would find Gage McKinney for a 30-yard passing score, and soon afterward when Birchfield scored once again.

Both touchdowns were followed by successful two-point attempts, with Cloudland leading the Eagles 46-6 at the halftime break.

After the halftime break that consisted of the crowning of a new homecoming queen at Cloudland High School, football was back with a running clock due to the point difference.

However, the running clock would not be apparent midway through the third, as Cosby would add their second touchdown to the board as Turner would race around the outside for a 24-yard score to lessen the advantage of Cloudland, the score now 46-12 in favor of the home team.

And with a bit of trickery, the Eagles would add another score, snapping the ball as time expired, with Turner going the distance from 56 yards out decreasing the deficit to one that was now 46-18.

And to add the cherry on top, Cloudland’s Kyle Birchfield would take the ball across the goal line from four yards out to cap things in the ball game, 52-18.

Speaking on his team’s big win on homecoming night, head coach Zac Benfield said, “I thought both our pass blocking and our run blocking went very well tonight. On the other hand, we have to start coming out of the gate much crisper. We came out tonight and had a long first drive, one that should have only been a few plays. ”

“We will be getting back to work on Monday and start to work on things like that before we square off against West Greene next Friday.”

As coach Benfield stated, the Highlanders will be back in action at home against West Greene in a non-conference matchup next week.